[Laura Noakes | Deputy Editor]
As the opening of Pride and Prejudice says: ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.’
So it should come as no surprise that it is a truth universally acknowledged that one of the most celebrated classic novels must be in want of an adaptation. Or in the case of Pride and Prejudice, many adaptations. There have been so many done of Jane Austen’s masterpiece that it’s hard to know where to start. Luckily for you, I have trawled through the many films, TV shows and web series based on the story of Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet and picked out five of the best.
1) Pride and Prejudice (1995 BBC Mini-Series)
This is THE version of the classic novel, the one that everyone talks about. It’s that one with Colin Firth, and the famous scene where his white shirt clings to his chest as he emerges from a lake. And let me tell you; this version does not disappoint. Jennifer Ehle is amazing at capturing Lizzie Bennet, and although the mini-series is 20 years old, the acting and direction doesn’t seem dated. In fact, this version is compulsive viewing and is probably the version that is most loyal to the original book.
2) The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (2012)
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries put a new, fresh twist on Austen. A web-series from Hank Green, it featured a modern Bennet family, and changed the novel in really exciting ways to update it for a web-savvy generation. I loved the completely unexpected twist with Lydia in this adaptation – it captured the scandal of the original plot-line but the change really made it real for a modern audience. As this version is a web-series, the story takes place in five minute videos – so you can digest the story in bite-sized chunks. It is also completely free! Happy watching!
3) Death Comes to Pemberley (2013)
Death Comes to Pemberley is also Austen with a twist. Based on P. D. James’ novel, it is a murder mystery set after Darcy and Elizabeth marry. The plot is exciting and compelling, and it’s lovely seeing where the Darcys are after a few years of marriage. Death Comes to Pemberley is essentially very well written fan-fiction based on the characters and circumstances of Pride and Prejudice. The acting here is stellar, and Jenna Coleman as the absolutely infuriating Lydia really stands out. This is great for those who love period dramas, but are also partial to a good crime show.
4) Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)
Okay, so Bridget Jones’s Diary is a VERY loose adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, but come on – it’s got Colin Firth in it! As Mr Darcy!! I think this reinterpretation is spot on, and Renee Zellweger’s Bridget is absolutely hilarious. This movie is a classic and a must watch for P&P fans!
5) Lost in Austen (2008)
Lost in Austen is what pretty much every Jane Austen fangirl wishes could happen to them. It tells the story of Amanda, a die-hard Pride and Prejudice fan, who travels through a portal in her bathroom and switches places with Lizzie Bennet. Unfortunately for Amanda, she keeps messing up the plot of Pride and Prejudice. A funny and heartwarming adaptation, Lost in Austen is wonderfully made and beautifully acted – and makes you wonder if you could capture Mr Darcy’s attention.
Those are my top 5 Pride and Prejudice adaptations. Each one is so distinct and captures something magical about Lizzie Bennet and her life. However, there are many more, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if we are treated to a new one very soon – just promise me Colin Firth will be back as Mr Darcy!